Abstract– the short paragraph at the beginning of an article that summarizes its main point (2.1)


Comparable groups– groups that are similar across factors important for the study (4.3)

Comparison group– a group in quasi-experimental designs that receives “treatment as usual” instead of no treatment (4.1)

Compensatory rivalry – a threat to internal validity in which participants in the control group increasing their efforts to improve because they know they are not receiving the experimental treatment (4.3)

Confidence interval – a range of values in which the true value is likely to be (2.1)<


Diffusion of treatment – a threat to internal validity in which members of the control group learn about the experimental treatment from people in the experimental group and start implementing the intervention for themselves (4.3)


Empirical articles– apply theory to a behavior and reports the results of a quantitative or qualitative data analysis conducted by the author (1.2)

Empirical questions– questions that can be answered by observing experiences in the real world (4.1)

Ethical questions – questions that ask about general moral opinions about a topic and cannot be answered through science (4.1)


History – a threat to internal validity that occurs when something happens outside the experiment but affects its participants (4.3)


Literature review – a survey of factual or nonfiction books, articles, and other documents published on a particular subject (3.1)


Maturation – a threat to internal validity in which the change in an experiment would have happened even without any intervention because of the natural passage of time (4.3)

Mortality – a threat to internal validity caused when either the experimental or control group composition changes because of people dropping out of the study (4.3)


Null hypothesis – the assumption that no relationship exists between the variables in question (2.1)


Peer review – a formal process in which other esteemed researchers and experts ensure the work meets the standards and expectations of the professional field (1.2)

Practical articles – describe “how things are done” in practice (Wallace & Wray, 2016, p. 20) (1.2)

Primary source – published results of original research studies (1.2)

P-value – a statistical measure of the probability that there is no relationship between the variables under study (2.1)


Query – search terms used in a database to find sources (1.3)


Reactivity – a threat to internal validity that occurs because the participants realize they are being observed (4.3)>

Resentful demoralization – a threat to internal validity that occurs when people in the control group decrease their efforts because they aren’t getting the experimental treatment (4.3)


Secondary sources – interpret, discuss, and summarize original sources (1.2)

Seminal articles – classic works noted for their contribution to the field and high citation count (1.2)

Signposting – words that identify the organization and structure of a literature review (3.3)

Statistical significance – the likelihood that the relationships that are observed could be caused by something other than chance (2.1)


Table– a quick, condensed summary of the report’s key findings (2.1)

Target population– a group of people whose needs your study addresses (4.2)

Tertiary sources – synthesize or distill primary and secondary sources, such as Wikipedia (1.2)

Theoretical articles – articles that discuss a theory, conceptual model, or framework for understanding a problem (1.2)


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Guidebook for Social Work Literature Reviews and Research Questions Copyright © 2020 by Rebecca Mauldin and Matthew DeCarlo is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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